Friday, April 22, 2016

Rare bird alert!!
Broad-winged Hawk
On Thurdsay April 21, at Parker Ranch in Beatty, Laura Cunningham and I were birding and saw a Broad-winged Hawk flying overhead, being chased by a Cooper's Hawk. Broad-winged Hawks can be Identified by their dark tail bands and broad wings with a dark trailing edge. This may be Nye County's only record to date! I have reported to E-bird for permanent record-keeping. (Contact the Nature Conservancy for access to Parker Ranch)

A pair of Northern Harriers ( formerly called Marsh Hawks) are nesting at Torrance Ranch. Here is a shot of the eggs, 4 so far, which were being incubated by the female. There is also a nesting pair at Parker Ranch. There may be several other pairs in the Beatty area. I have noticed them in other areas along the river.


Northern Harrier nest

female Northern Harrier

Size and plumage difference between male and female Northern Harrier
Reverse sexual dimorphism means  that the females are much bigger than males.(Common in many birds of prey)

Male Northern Harrier

This juvenile Red-tailed Hawk was driven out of the Torrance Ranch area  by the male Northern Harrier

Nesting season is in full force in Beatty's Oasis Valley.
At Torrance Ranch, a female Black-chinned Hummingbird has almost completed her nest. Female hummingbirds receive no help from males who don't even know where the nest is.

This old Cottonwood has a pair of American Kestrels nesting in a cavity about 20ft high.

This female Kestrel waits for me to leave until she returns to the nest cavity.
Male American Kestrel

A pair of Black Phoebe have built their mud-based nest under the gazebo at Torrance Ranch. They have two eggs as of April 20th.

There are two pairs of Northern Mockingbirds at Torrance Ranch, I observed one female sneaking some nest material into a salt bush shrub. The males are constantly singing and imitating all kinds of intricate bird songs and calls. This one was copying an Ash-throated Flycatcher, a Loggerhead Shrike, and American Robin, a Cooper's Hawk and many more.
Northern Mockingbird (male singing)
Northern Mockingbird

Western Kingbirds arrived in force on April 20th in Oasis Valley
There were a few around Torrance Ranch and Parker Ranch. They are known to breed in good numbers in Oasis Valley. Kingbirds are large Flycatchers and along with other birds,

put a big dent in the local insect populations.
Western Kingbird

Yellow Warblers have also arrived and males are claiming territories in  Willow filled riparian areas along the Amargosa River. Songbirds "claim a territory by singing from  prominent high perches throughout the territory, and defending against other male Yellow Warblers by fighting with them when they cross boundaries. Yellow Warblers will nest in dense willow along the Amargosa River.

At Parker Ranch a pair of Bell's Vireo have nearly completed their nest. They successfully raised young here last year for the first time.

Bell's Vireo nest (almost complete)

Another nest in an adjacent territory on Parker Ranch has been started by an apparently un-mated male. I followed him around for almost two hours while he moved from one singing spot to another. There was no sign of a female. Male Bell's Vireo build approximately the first 40% of the nest then, if the female approves of the construction and location, she'll join in to finish it. Sometimes un-mated male build a "starter nest" apparently hoping to attract a mate by being ready to go if a female arrives. This male seems to have gone un-mated last year, as I found the old "starter nest from last year, next to this year's attempt.
                                                           Starter nest-Bell's Vireo

Gambel's Quail are now paired up and

 nesting in dense brush and shrubs. They can lay almost 20 eggs! Soon, tiny fuzzy precocial (born fuzzy and mobile like a chicken) chicks will be following their parents through the understory.

Many other birds are now travelling through Oasis Valley on there way to breed elsewhere.
American Goldfinch at Torrance Ranch

Huge numbers of Wilson's Warblers are migrating
to their breeding habitats.

This Eared Grebe stopped in to rest at Parker Ranch in the main river channel.

This Great Blue Heron is often found along the river behind the Stagecoach Inn.

An Osprey, a large fish eating predator, takes a break from migration on a pole just south of Beatty.

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